If you’ve ever played a sport or even watched a great team play, you know the importance of a good coach. Without a coach, even the most skilled players likely won’t reach their full potential. It takes someone with the vision to put the best team together, move people to the right positions, and train and encourage players to be their best to win championships. I interviewed more than 140 top CEOs for my new book, The Future Leader, and asked what skills they thought would be important for leaders in the next decade. Many of their most common responses fall under the skill of the coach, or translating those sports analogies to the business world.
Future leaders must be great coaches. This means that they know how to motivate, engage, and inspire people, create other leaders, work across generations and cultures, and put together effective teams. Studies have found that companies with better coaches have three times as many people who are willing to go the extra mile. Leaders with the skill of the coach create teams with high employee commitment scores. Clearly, this skill is crucial for not only creating great teams, but keeping them loyal and motivated.
Here are four aspects of the skill of the coach and how to develop them:
Motivating, Inspiring, and Engaging People
Great leaders don’t just tell people what to do; they make people actually want to do it. Motivating a team is a crucial skill, but it is also very challenging. Motivating (push), inspiring (pull), and engaging (keep) people are three different things that work together. To develop this skill, leaders need to really know their employees as people. They need to understand what motivates each person, which comes from talking to them about their interests and goals. Engaging employees means focusing on employee experience and building a strong environment in three areas: technology, physical space, and culture.
Pedro Parente, former CEO of BRF, told me this: “If you want to get better and long-lasting results for your organization, then you must do so by being an inspiring leader. Not long ago, companies could achieve results and generate value by imposing views and standards and working through a top-down, command system. Our reality has changed dramatically and nowadays long-term results have to do with organizations that are able to change, to adapt fast enough and build cultures that are based on values.”
To be a coach, build and strengthen relationships with your employees and create organization-wide values that can motivate, inspire, and engage your people.
Creating Future Leaders
One of the most important roles of a leader is to create future leaders. Leaders need to show up to work every day determined to help the people around them become more successful than they are. That shift in mindset impacts everything about how successful leaders think and work. Creating future leaders means investing in employees and creating training and development programs. It means mentoring employees and helping in their personal and professional lives. Find ways to teach other employees, either one-on-one or as a group. Keep an eye on skills of the future to know how to best prepare employees with the new skillsets they’ll need.
Working Across Generations and Culture
Future leaders will face the unique challenge of working in a multi-generational workforce that is diverse and spread around the world. Oftentimes, this will mean leading people with different backgrounds and beliefs than you.
Sébastien Bazin, CEO of AccorHotels, put it this way: “As a future leader you must be able to work with people regardless of how old they are, where they come from, what they believe, or what gender they are.”
Developing this skill means understanding each group individually and knowing what makes them tick, what they are looking for in a work experience, and what they can offer the team. Leaders need to be comfortable working with people who are different than them and encourage an accepting attitude in their teams.
Creating Effective Teams
Just like coaches have to put together the best players on the field or the court, leaders must assemble employees to be effective and productive. Not every player or employee is an all-star, but they all have areas where they can excel. The key is to focus on each person’s strengths and put them on a team that plays to their strengths. In many cases, leaders create an environment where teams can collaborate and succeed instead of having to hold their hands the entire time. To practice this skill, become familiar with your own strengths and weaknesses and those of the people on your team. Create an environment that is open and supportive.
Coaches must be constantly working with their team to strengthen skills, put people in the right positions, and develop them for future success. Similarly, future leaders need to know each person individually to not only put them on the right team but help them develop. The skill of the coach is crucial in building an organization where employees are engaged and have the resources and skills to succeed.
140 of the world’s top CEOs identified a specific set of 9 skills & mindsets that are crucial for leaders to master. Learn what they are and hear directly from these leaders by downloading the PDF below.
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